What are they?
First Aid

What are poisonous mushrooms?

Amanita pantherina mushroom
Amanita pantherina is one mushroom you don’t want accidentally ending up on your plate. Photo by Wesley Ivins, Creative Commons 2.0.

Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of certain types of fungus. There are dozens of types of mushroom that commonly grow wild in the eastern United States. Some of them are edible, but others can be very harmful if you eat them.

Young children may unknowingly put harmful mushrooms in their mouths while exploring, while older children may eat wild mushrooms thinking they are safe or in showing off or responding to dares.

Adults sometimes pick harmful mushrooms to eat, thinking they are safe. Some of the harmful “lookalike” mushrooms that we hear about at the Northern New England Poison Center are:

What are the symptoms of mushroom poisoning?

Most harmful mushrooms are stomach irritants, which means that if you eat one you may:

  • Get a stomach ache
  • Have diarrhea
  • Throw up

These symptoms will usually show up within 30 minutes, but may take longer.

However, more dangerous mushrooms may take 6 hours or more to cause symptoms. The symptoms may start with diarrhea or stomach cramps. These mushrooms can make your kidneys or liver stop working. You could need a transplant or even die.

Other types of mushrooms can cause hallucinations or make you feel anxious. People occasionally eat these by mistake, but more often become sick after eating them intentionally to get high.

What should I do if a child has eaten a wild mushroom?

  • If there are still pieces of the mushroom in the child’s mouth, take them out. Do not throw any mushroom pieces away.
  • Give the child a few sips of water or milk.
  • If possible, take a picture of the mushroom or another mushroom of the same type.
  • Call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222 or chat online. The poison center will help figure out if the mushroom is harmful and what you need to do next.

What should I do if I’m having symptoms after eating wild mushrooms?

If you are having symptoms after eating a mushroom that you or someone else foraged, call the poison center right away at 1-800-222-1222, chat online or text POISON to 85511.

If someone has passed out or is not breathing, call 911 right away.

How can I prevent mushroom poisonings?

  • Get rid mushrooms in your yard.
  • Keep an eye on young children playing in the yard or the woods, and teach older children to ask before touching or eating mushrooms, plants or berries found outside.
  • Do not pick and eat mushrooms that you find outside unless you have received training on mushroom identification from an expert. The North American Mycological Association has a list of mushroom clubs, including ones in Maine and New Hampshire, that may have information on available trainings.

Last Updated: Wednesday October 11th 2017